Still light-headed from the Palarse result on Saturday morning, I hadn't yet checked the table when Mrs Nelson asked me 'So where are you now in the League?'. Not wishing to spoil the moment, in any way, of course I tended to dream a bit and touch of exaggeration was in order. 'Oh, 3rd now.'
So it was with some dismay that I discovered on getting home that we were still only 5th and affairs didn't improve with the results at 5 o'clock, when we were back 4 points off auto-promotion.
But at least we've hit the 50 and it seems that with only 15 games left, its all downhill from here. Fifteen games, 7 at home and 8 away, but exactly how many points do we need? Will the favoured 80 be enough? So as a pointer I looked at the last 5 years. Last season the top 2, Sunderland and Birmingham, had 88 and 86 points, the season before Reading and Sheff U, 106 and 90, the year before Sunderland and Wigan 94 and 87, in 2003/04 West Brom and Norwich 94 and 86, and even back in 2002/03 Portsmouth and Leicester had 98 and 92.
So the lowest 2nd placed in the last 5 years is the 86 points of Birmingham and Norwich. And thats exactly what Pards was aiming for back in August; 26 wins to get us to 78 points with as many draws as possible to pull us into the 80's. But this year everybody has improved and the bottom teams are better and therefore the points total for the top teams will therefore be lower.
But what do you need this year to win the thing? Well, its been pointed out that the best way to calculate the required total is to look at the points spread top to bottom. Last season, ignoring Leeds' points deduction, the final spread top to bottom was 48 points over 46 games. At the moment in the fizzies its only 27, presumably meaning that the teams this year are better balanced. But what was it this time last year?
Well, fortunately we can ask our nerd of a brother, Hardy, and he tells us that at this point in the season in February 2007 with 15 games left, the top team had 62 and the bottom 27 so the spread top to bottom was indeed much higher, 35 points against this years 27. And with last seasons spread extending 13 points in the last 15 games, you'd expect this seasons difference to grow from its current 27 to about 40.
So work out what the bottom team will get by May 4th and you can figure out what you'll need to win the league. The bottom team back in February 2007 was Southend on 28 points - strangely enough exactly the same as Colchester have now although with a game less played - and the bottom club in May was Luton on 40. So add another 12 points to Colchesters total and you can summise that the bottom team come May 4th will also be on 40.
So with a bottom team getting 40 and the spread being 40, then all you'll need to walk away as Champions will be a total of 80 points....
Another key point to remember is that last years top 2 had accumulated 9 more points than the top 2 so far this year. In February 2007, Derby were top with a massive 62 points, and Preston were second on 56. Fifty points last season would have got you 7th place. And who was it had 50 points on this day last year? Eventual Champions, Sunderland! Doesn't look very reassuring really, because, as mentioned before, what we have to do is to emulate the feats of Sunderland, who got a remarkable 38 points from the last 45 available. But then that was an exceptional feat. In comparson, 2nd placed Birmingham only got 26 points from their last 15 and Play-Off winners, Derby, only 22, so if we even scored the required 30, it would also be remarkable.
So, forget Palarse, that was yesterday - well Friday - , from now on we probably have to win ALL seven of our home fixtures, plus another 3 away games. Eight games against teams in the bottom half, seven against teams in the top half.
Target 80, Pards, that's the cry.....